Wednesday, 23 November 2011
The 'constructive one' on Child Poverty
The documentary that aired last night "Inside NZ: Inside Child Poverty" was shockingly sad. It was also cleverly shaped with a political agenda in mind.
I am glad that they highlighted the need for healthy homes for our babies. I think it uncovered a great shame of the State that we have not included housing and environmental factors in thinking about how to care for a whanau's overall wellbeing.
We need more state houses, we need our houses to be insulated, and in my view, we need to develop a minimum standard of health and fitness for all rental properties in Aotearoa. Ultimately, I also think that Housing needs to be moved into the Whanau Ora space - as housing does not only impact on health, but access to whanau support, key services, schools etc.
Another aspect of the issue of child poverty is of course income, and jobs. Don't you just wish you lived in Sweden? As I am sure you know, the Maori Party want $16 minimum wage, the first $25K income earned to be tax free, and GST off food. This is a good start, but it does not take away from the fact that we need jobs.
We need a plan to establish more jobs, and the Maori Party is proposing that we start wrapping our support around the Maori economy. More than just Iwi Business, the bulk of the $36Billion asset base is actually driven by small to medium sized businesses. We need to support Maori business, so that Maori business can support our communities by creating jobs.
While we need a Government focused on stimulating development opportunities, we also need a government that focuses on our basic human rights. I personally believe that a rights based framework is critical to informing Government spending and policy.
After watching the documentary there was a lot of korero about 'feeding the kids' and establishing a Ministry for Children. I am more inclined to think we need a Ministry of Families. I only say this because I believe that our current government agencies that focus on one member of the whanau, often make decisions in isolation that only take in short term gain, and also ignore other factors which go into informing the wellbeing of that individual - just look at CYF's as an example.
I also believe in 'balance' - and I think we need Government departments who can take in the whole picture and context, rather than tick their box while ignoring a number of other boxes that need to be addressed. This is the reason we have established Kaitoko Whanau and Oranga Whanau - so that there is someone dedicated to looking at the bigger picture about the needs of individuals within a whanau - in order to address their collective well-being.
Other factors of course come down to parenting, making good decisions for your children, education, and support. These are big issues, and need to be addressed with targeted support programmes, as well as through whanau and community role modeling.
Ultimately, what I took away from the doco last night, was that we need to think with our hearts (EQ) as well as with our brains (IQ). I think we need to work together on solutions, and my cudos goes to Rahui Katene (Maori Party) and Metiria Turei (Greens) for leading the Inquiry into the status of Maori and Pacific children.
The frustrating thing about political processes is that it takes time for decisions to filter through the system into actual practice on the ground.
We as communities also have a role to play in this. We need to take responsibility to awhi where we can, to share, to tautoko. It's called manaakitanga. It is something that we should do without expecting a return, although I suspect the universe will return it to you in some way in the future. We are all in this together.